Seven weeks ago I went for a job interview with a prominent company in downtown Chicago. I felt positive about my candidacy because my former boss as well as a former colleague who work for this company both strongly recommended me to the hiring manager. On top of that my resume matched perfectly to the job descriptions. At the time, I didn’t see how things could improve with my current employment and therefore it appeared that the best way was to get out.

Michelle and her friend Tiffany rode the train with me to spend the day in downtown Chicago. We had lunch across the street from the elegant building where my interview would take place. Michelle and I had an engaged conversation about goals and how to set up concrete steps to reach them. As I put on the white blazer Jane and Michelle had picked out for me the day before specifically for this occasion, I pointed to the building and said, “ I am going to get in there and get that job!”

“You go, girl!” Michelle cheered.

My self-confidence was like a deflated balloon as I sat in the lobby waiting. I hadn’t had a job interview for over ten years! The prospect of being grilled for the next four hours wasn’t something I was particularly looking forward to. I’d rather be with Michelle and Tiffany strolling the streets of Chicago. Then I took a deep breath and reminded myself why I was there. I told myself, “You already had phone interviews with two of the three interviewers. The feedback was very positive. You are the best candidate for this position. You know your stuff. You’ve prepared a list of intelligent questions to ask. You can do this. You can do this. You can do this!” Instantly my confidence level went back up.

The first interview went very smoothly. Then I got to chat for half an hour with my former colleague whom I hadn’t seen for over ten years although we had traded emails on and off. We talked informally and personally about kids, family and the people we both knew. By the time the hiring manager showed up, I was completely situated. I aced the second interview. The third interviewer would be my peer if I’d get the job. My guard was off since I thought it’d be a breeze. But it turned out to be the hardest of the three. Close to 5 pm, he gave me a real problem to solve on the spot. I struggled a bit but managed to come up with two alternative answers. Overall I thought I did well and my chances of being offered the job looked quite good.

I didn’t get the job. They gave it to an internal candidate. My hope of a quick escape evaporated. I had no choice but to work out the issues with my current new boss and finish the impossible project that had sent me on a wild goose chase.

Two weeks later, the HR of the prominent company contacted me for another job opening. A phone interview with the hiring manager was arranged. He immediately sent me to the head quarter to talk to his boss, the marketing VP, and one of his peers. I made a one-day trip to and back from Connecticut and got a chance to reconnect with my former boss Doug over lunch.

“You’ve impressed everyone you’ve talked to so far. I expect the interviews here to go very well. I already did some pre-selling for you.” Doug looked exactly the same as seven years ago.

“That always helps. Thank you!” We chatted about his elderly parents and his recent three-week trip to China. Doug is a Caucasian who has always had a keen interest in the Chinese culture. I complimented him on his bravery making the solo trip to China with very limited Chinese. He grinned.

I didn’t want to take anything for granted. So I continued to sell myself, including my personality, skills and experience to the marketing VP and his senior manager. When it was all over, I told Doug that I was happy with how it went.

A few days later I got an email from the HR representative informing me that I had been declined for the second position but was still under consideration for an opening with a different title and job code. It was discouraging and confusing. I was wary of going through another round of interviews. Doug assured me that this had to be a mistake because the VP told him the final decision hadn’t been reached.

I wasn’t so sure. Luckily, by that time things were looking up for me with my current job. So I went through the exercise of synthesizing happiness by convincing myself that I didn’t have to leave my current job. It’d perfectly fine if I didn’t get the job offer. With that conviction, I managed not to waste any time putting my life on hold for the hiring decision.

Last week, the HR person reached out to me again for salary information. I got the job! It turned out they had to relist the second job because it had been closed due to the failure to find a qualified candidate before I showed up. It is a bigger job than the first one I interviewed for. I am going to lead a small team and present strategic analytic insight to the external clients to influence their investment decisions.

Leaving my current job after 17 years isn’t going to be easy. For over a decade, I’ve been on a big ship that is slowly sinking. I made a choice to stay on because of the people I work with and the flexible work schedule the company offers me. But I am ready to embark a new ship that is afloat and has a direction. I am excited about the opportunity to learn, to contribute and to expand!